Ketchup [illustrative] .
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Osem may be the largest condiment seller in Israel by a long shot, but the company seems nervous that the world standard Heinz is starting to “ketchup.” Osem has embarked on a campaign to get Heinz, which accounts for about a third of Israeli ketchup sales, off supermarket shelves.
In letters to regulators and retailers that had Heinz seeing red, Osem claimed its competitor's product was comprised of just 21% tomato, not 61% as claimed. Osem wasn’t just being saucy; it said a leading European laboratory had inspected the stuff before condemning the condiment.
Diplomat, which distributed Heinz, said that Osem’s claims were hard to swallow. “The Heinz product is sold under the name Ketchup in 130 countries, but according to Osem, it is illegal,” the group said.
Osem, it said, was a monopoly that was trying to simply get rid of competition using definitions that have no legal basis. Its scientific claims were all dressed up, Diplomat added, noting that the alleged lab tests were not made public.
If Osem threw legal rotten tomatoes at them, it said, it would respond in kind.
“Instead of battling over the hearts and pockets of consumers, Osem is trying to harm its competitors with legal tricks and deception,’ Diplomat said with apparent relish.
Osem shot back that it had presented its findings weeks ago, and doubled down on its claim that Heinz was not the real thing.
Finding themselves in a pickle, retailers have decided to ignore the letter until they hear from a regulator.